Both the Pokémon Trading Card Game and the various Pokémon video games have seen major success throughout the franchise’s lifetime, despite their many differences. Each series has cultivated a loyal following of fans and gained extreme popularity throughout the media industry, inspiring trends and maintaining a significant presence in the gaming industry across decades.
While the Pokémon franchise appears to have found the recipe for success, it isn’t as uniform as it seems at first glance. In fact, there are many differences between the Pokémon TCG and the video games that makes each product line unique and enjoyable in its own way.
Despite the success and shared franchise of both game series, the Pokémon TCG and the Pokémon video games have extremely different sets of rules and regulations that ensures combat doesn’t become uncontrollable chaos. The differences encompass a majority of combat features that have made each game’s experience so dear to its players. While the Pokémon Trading Card Game and the mainline video game series both occupy the same universe and use the same characters, the similarities appear to end there.
The Pokémon TCG Prevents Debilitated Pokémon From Escaping Battle
One of the biggest changes in the Pokémon Trading Card Game rules is the ability of a Trainer to withdraw a debilitated Pokémon from the battlefield during combat. The Pokémon TCG requires players to designate one Pokémon as their Active Pokémon, which is the equivalent of the video game’s battling Pokémon. Active Pokémon are the only creatures that are allowed to attack, and inflicting a status effect such as Sleep or Paralysis is a surefire way to hurt one’s opponent for a few turns. The card game prevents Active Pokémon inflicted with the Sleep and Paralysis status effects from being withdrawn and swapped with another Pokémon from the Trainer’s bench (the equivalent of the Trainer’s party). This rule is a major shift from what players are encouraged to do in the mainline video games.
Within the Pokémon video games like Sword and Shield or X and Y, it is common for players to withdraw their battling monster in exchange for another more effective creature. The removal of this strategy has led to the increased importance of item cards within the Pokémon TCG. Additionally, Active Pokémon afflicted with status conditions will have those statuses removed upon successfully returning to the bench. This greatly differs from the video games, as Pokémon afflicted with conditions such as Burn or Frozen will still have those effects upon returning to the party. While the TCG offers utility cards such as Trainer cards or item cards, the Pokémon games rely solely on healing items like Full Heals or Antidotes to cure these afflictions.
Evolution Occurs Mid-Battle In The Pokémon TCG
Many gameplay features in the card game hinge on the collection of Pokémon on each player’s bench growing strong enough to defeat their opponents. The increasing number of turns in a Pokémon TCG battle only increases the likelihood that one’s opponent will be able to successfully evolve their monster before the player. One of the key ways in strengthening one’s creatures in Pokémon TCG is evolution, which occurs mid-battle, unlike in the video games. Evolution mid-battle not only cures Pokémon of all status effects, but enables the creature to use powerful new abilities and have more hit points (HP).
In the video games, Pokémon will only receive experience and view the evolution animation after the battle has concluded. Evolution will also not cure status effects, and will not equip Pokémon with a completely new set of moves and abilities. It is also unlikely that any singular evolution will raise a Pokémon’s HP stat as much as a Pokémon TCG evolution currently does. For example, a Pikachu evolving into a Raichu goes from 60 HP to 90 HP in the Pokémon TCG, while a Pikachu in the mainline video games is subject to a variety of personal stats that determines its total number of health points after it evolves.
The Pokémon Trading Card Game Has Multiple Paths To Victory
There are multiple ways to win a battle in the Pokémon TCG. The most common method of victory is the function of prize cards, which are claimed after knocking out an opposing Pokémon. Players must claim six prize cards total to win. However, this is not the only method to win in the Pokémon TCG, as players can also pursue a battle of attrition through a method called outdecking, which focuses on ensuring the enemy’s deck runs out of cards, thereby eliminating the possibility for any additional moves. Players can also win if there are no more Pokémon on their opponent’s bench after their current Active Pokémon has been defeated.
In the Pokémon video games, victory in battle is more fluid, with healing items like revives and hyper potions (or the power of the almighty save button) being able to ensure the most prepared Trainers are victorious. There is no prize card system that limits Pokémon knock-outs to six, meaning that players with enough revives can claim victory over even the strongest opponents in-game. Seeing as there is currently no deck mechanic in the Pokémon games, there is no way for victory to be claimed by outlasting one’s opponent through resources either. Pokémon battles in games like Sword and Shield can only be won if the opponent’s Pokémon are all defeated in battle.
Pokémon Attacks Need To Be Charged With Energy Cards
Perhaps one of the most significant differences between combat in the Pokémon TCG and the Pokémon games is the requirements for Pokémon attacks. Before a Pokémon is able to use one of its powerful attacks in the Pokémon TCG, it must first have the correct amount and type of Energy attached to it. This ‘charging’ mechanic is to prevent the obvious spamming of extremely effective moves that would result in species with the strongest attacks claiming victory every match. This function introduces a resource management type of system within the TCG that fails to appear in other Pokémon titles, as players must carefully balance their resources in order to consistently damage and defeat opponents.
In the Pokémon video games, the only limitation placed on Pokémon attacks is if the move has what’s known as PP, or Power Points. The more powerful the move is, the lower the total number of Power Points will be. This results in powerful Pokémon such as Legendaries being unable to spam signature moves that would obliterate opponents if there were no restrictions. Unlike the TCG’s mechanics, PP can be recovered freely by Nurse Joy at a Pokémon Center, where a Pokémon’s health can be restored as well. There are few methods to recover Energy cards that are not either situational, or require the use of an item or Trainer card within the TCG.
The Importance Of Trainers In Pokémon Games Vary
Trainers are situated in a unique position in both games of the Pokémon franchise, coming with their own rules, abilities, and mechanics that work toward making the video games and TCG more unique experiences. Unlike in the video games, Trainers are equipped with special abilities on their Pokémon TCG cards that can influence the outcomes of battles. Some Trainers work toward unlocking the full potential of Active and Benched Pokémon, manipulate the player’s deck, allow for the drawing of more resources or the recycling of discarded resources, or switch the focus of the battle entirely.
In the video games, Trainers have limited influences during battles and mostly function as characters to fill the vastness of Pokémon’s many regions. Player characters have the abilities to choose the moves of their Pokémon, use items to heal or revive their Pokémon, and are able to catch Pokémon and change their roster of monsters. The absence of Trainer abilities in-game contributes toward the appeal of training up teams of Pokémon, and optimizing their movesets for the challenges offered by Gym Leaders and Trainers.
While the TCG and video game series share the same beloved monster fighting franchise, their rules and playing experiences vary greatly. The reasoning behind this is a simple – yet effective – method that ensures the Pokémon world can appeal to as many audiences as possible. Both the Pokémon Trading Card Game and video games have vast collections of creatures to collect and battle, each with their own unique experiences.
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